The judges choose Bard Coffee barista Kelsey Sirois’ cup as the winner of the Latte Art Throwdown at Elements in Biddeford Thursday night.

The judges choose Bard Coffee barista Kelsey Sirois’ cup as the winner of the Latte Art Throwdown at Elements in Biddeford Thursday night.

BIDDEFORD — Forget sugar, how about a heart to complement your latte?

Latte art – the practice of pouring steamed milk over espresso in a way that creates intricate patterns on the surface of the drink – has been popular in small circles for decades.

On Thursday, Elements: Books Coffee Beer hosted what is known in the local coffee community as a Latte Art Throwdown: a competition that pits barista against barista to see who can pour the best hearts, tulips and rosettas, the latter of which are complicated, fern-like designs.

The competitions are held once every three or four months and attract 16 or more baristas from coffee shops throughout southern Maine and New Hampshire.

“We mostly do it for the networking, for the sense of camaraderie and friendly competition between regional coffee shops,” said Katie Pinard, co-owner of Elements.

It was the third time the downtown Biddeford coffee shop hosted one of the competitions, which began at Bard Coffee in Portland about five years ago.

Thursday’s winner was Kelsey Sirois of Bard Coffee. She took home a cash prize, a championship belt to keep until it’s handed off to the winner of the next competition, and, of course, brag- ging rights.

Pinard admits that latte art might seem like a frivolous endeavor to some. But in her experience as a barista, customers really appreciate the time and skill that goes into it.

“Their face just brightens up when they see you’ve made something in their latte,” she said. “It even makes some people’s day.”

Pinard said it took her months to learn the basics of the craft, and she continues to watch videos and consult with other baristas to get better at it.

Each of the 22 baristas who competed in Thursday’s competition paid a $10 entry fee, and half of that money was donated to Engine, an arts-focused nonprofit on Main Street.

Tammy Ackerman, Engine’s executive director, served as one of the judges Thursday. The others were Ian McConnell, founder of the nearby Banded Horn Brewing Co., and Greg Mitchell, co-owner of the Palace Diner.

— Staff Writer Angelo J. Verzoni can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or [email protected]


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